#17 Joel Plante is surrounded by his teammates celebrating his goal, Nanaimo's first of the game.
#30 Shane Shelest is assisted by #72 Brett Merner in stopping a late scoring opportunity by Chilliwack.
By Malcom Cooke
The Nanaimo Clippers skated to a 3-1 win over the Chilliwack Chiefs in game 5 of the second round of BCHL playoffs. The Clippers are clawing back at what was a 3-0 series deficit that now reads 3-2 for Chilliwack. Game 6 will be played Sunday in Chilliwack. Joel Plante, Jeremie Payant, and Ethan Mistry scored the 3 Clipper goals en route to victory. Shane Shelest stood on his head, stopping 36 of 37 shots faced, including numerous timely saves throughout the game.
Twenty seconds into the game the Clippers drew a penalty, giving the home team an excellent chance to take an early lead. The power play came and went without Nanaimo capitalizing on a chance for early momentum. The Clippers were buzzing around the Chilliwack net midway through the first, including a few top-tier scoring chances but could not solve Lucas Szyszka. The Chiefs stole momentum as Micheal La Starza fired the opening salvo on a breakaway. Clipper forward Joel Plante immediately answered back thirty seconds later, scoring the tying goal. The teams would go into the first intermission deadlocked at 1-1.
Shane Shelest had to make a five-alarm cross-crease save to start the second period, keeping the game tied. The Clippers headed to the power play for the second time in the game early in the second, but they were unable to score the go-ahead goal. The Chiefs would have their first power play shortly after the Clippers' power-play time expired. Shorthanded, it would be the Clippers who scored with the extra space. Willyam Gendron fed a seeing-eye pass to Jérémie Payant, who wired home his 5th goal of the postseason, giving Nanaimo a 2-1 lead. Another Chilliwack penalty gave the Clippers a chance to extend their lead before the second intermission. Unable to score on the power play, the Clippers have had 20 power plays in their second-round series and scored on none of them. As time was winding down in the second period, the Clippers took a penalty that would see them start the third period down a skater.
Nanaimo’s penalty-kill unit did their job to start the third period, keeping Chilliwack off the scoresheet. Shane Shelest made a season-preserving save early in the third as he snagged a shot out of midair with his glove hand. The Clippers would get their 4th power play of the game midway through the third and it would end the same way all Clipper power plays have gone this series, scoreless. The Clippers managed to hold onto the 2-1 lead until the Chiefs pulled their goalie. Ethan Mistry would add the insurance goal with just seconds left to seal a 3-1 Clipper victory. With the win, the Clippers are down 3-2 in their second-round best-of-seven series.
Shane Shelest earned first star of the game for his 36-save performance. Jeremie Payant received second star for his game-winning goal. Willyam Gendron’s 2 assists were good enough for third star. Joel Plante took home FortisBC Energy Player of the Game.